||A work on Jewish charity. The title translates as: Words of the encouragement for the establishment of pious donations. The author, R. Benjamin Willstätter, was the city and district Rabbi in Karlsruhe.
This volume is part of the Schriften (Institut zur Förderung der Israelitischen Literatur) ; 1. Jahr, 1855/56. The Institut zur Förderung der Israelitischen Literatur was founded in 1855 by R. Ludwig Philippson The Institut can best be described as a publication society, allowing members, for a nominal annual fee, to receive books published by the society. R. Philippson assured members that the publications would not be highbrow scholarly works, nor contain political or polemic material, but would rather strive ‘to capture the interest of the masses and to entertain and educate them’. Through this medium, R. Philippson tried to close the gap between the scientific investigation of Judaism and a public almost completely estranged from it. His society was devoted to the needs of his contemporaries, as he very strongly felt that only a popularization of scholarly studies could reach and influence the Jewish world. It was to Philippson’s credit that the Institut was a rousing success. During its existence between 1855 and 1873 about eighty books by four dozen authors were published ranging over the whole gamut of Jewish scholarship, and its peak membership reached over 3600. The most far-reaching publications were the first seven volumes of Graetz’ Geschichte der Juden (‘History of the Jews’), which made a tremendous impact on Jewish self-esteem as the first positive account of Jewish history. The estimated distribution of all publications of the Institut amounted to an astonishing 182,000 volumes during the first ten years. Although opposed by some who believed that a popularization of any scientific discipline was blasphemous, or by others who simply refused to identify with an organization that was directed by a leading protagonist of Reform, the Institut proved beyond any doubt that a populist approach reaches the people. Philippson decided to end the activities of the organisation in 1873, when he felt that public interest had peaked and was on the decline and a new generation required more worldly reading material. Nevertheless, the Institut was so successful that it was held up as a shining example for later generations.